|Out on a Hike :Ashuelot River, Keene NH|
|County Champion Red Oak|
Friedsam Town Forest, Chesterfield
I hope everyone is still managing to
stay healthy and sane as we practice crucial measures for social distancing and
personal protection from the Corvid 19 virus.
On the “keeping sane” front, last week I discussed how we can explore
within our homes for interesting photographic subjects. Possibilities included pets and floral
photography as well as macro photography to study the details of everyday
things. I also mentioned that I have taken advantage of all my free time to
catch up on editing the volumes of untouched images that I have collected from
previous travels and from the wonderful progression of our New England seasons. There is much within our homes to keep our
photography interesting and creative, but with proper precautions, there should
be no reason to restrict our shooting within our walls. With simple precautions, we can step outside,
take a drive, a hike in the woods or just a stroll around the neighborhood.
“stick season” can be drab, but life is returning to the landscape. With eyes open, you will be surprised by the
beauty that is all around. Here are just
a few suggestions of what photographic wonders you may find as you venture out
into our early New England spring.
During the stick
seasons of both November and the early spring, much of my photography is
focused on patterns in nature. Bare
branches, twigs, dead leaves, fences, and stonewalls can all be captured in
interesting arrangements forming strong compositions. Once you start looking, the patterns are
everywhere. Most days I walk along the
same loop through my SpoffordVillage
neighborhood. It is all very familiar,
but I always seem to find new things to shoot.
The weather or light may be different, or I may find fresh compositions
or angles on scenes that I pass every day. Don’t be afraid to experiment. After all those pixels are free.
|Ice Out on the Edge|
spring, thesubtle shades of color can be
striking, but this is also a time when black and white images can be used to
highlight the patterns. When shooting
for black and white, I always capture the original images in color, and later
convert to B&W. The underlying color
information can be used to lighten or darken corresponding areas of the
I converted a simple picture of a twig on the ground
to black and white, and I was able to darken the greens and yellows to highlight
the curving form of the pine branch.
These sorts of adjustments are available in Lightroom, Photoshop and
most other image editing programs.
In the early
spring there are signs of new life. A
couple of weeks ago shoots of green had pushed through the snow and now the
brave Crocuses are reaching up towards the light.
The buds on the trees are beginning to swell and in just a few weeks they will be exploding into bizarre arrays of early growth.
always been a fan of the beautiful patterns and colors of New England’s ubiquitousLichens. Lichen is actually a symbiotic
composite organism combining a fugus superstructure in which lives
a photosynthetic algae or cyanobacteria.
When you start looking you will see that Lichen covers much of the
substance of New England. Stone walls, boulders and even trees are hosts. Spring, when the forests aren’t choked with
leaves, is a great time to view and photograph the underappreciated Lichens.
On a much
grander scale than the lowly Lichen, spring is a time when animals become more
active. If you are persistent, patient
and lucky, you may capture squirrels, chipmunks, deer and many wild birds. Visiting a nearby farm, you can find sheep, cows and horses all feeding on the new grass.
On a recent walk, a passerby directed my attention to a juvenile eagle
perched high above Spofford Lake. The
bird stayed in the tree long enough for me to run home and return with my long
steadied my 800mm Lens (actually 400mm with a 2x extender) on my car roof and,
with a rapid shutter speed, I was able to get some steady, views of
this magnificent raptor.
also decorated by the remains of the previous season’s growth. Fallen leaves can be seen in various patterns
of decay on the ground or floating on ponds and streams. Recently I found a nice collection of
Cat-o’-nine tails bunched in a patch of wetland next to Spofford lake. Spring is also a great time to get a clear
view of the weathering of old trees and stumps.
Beech trees are
remarkably persistent members of our New England forests. During
winter and spring their bright yellow leaves tenaciously cling to the branches and add
color to an otherwise dull landscape. I
always look for ways to include these splashes of color in my compositions.
|Beech Forest Spofford NH|
The Golden Hours
|West River Sunset Brattleboro Vt|
in additional to the special spring stuff, there are many of the usual New
England attractions to be seen as you venture away from home. Sunsets and sunrises should be as glorious as
during any other time of year. Although I wonder if the reduction in vehicular air
pollution might mute the rosy glory of the golden hours.
It is easy to capture brilliant color in a sunset, but try to make the image about more than just a splash of garish color. Find something interesting in the foreground that tells a story and places the viewer within the scene.
|"Super" Moon over Monadnock|
The fullmoon will be rising on Tuesday evening (4/7) and will be the biggest this year. Moonrise
in Keene will be in the east (92.8 deg) at 6:58 pm, although as we look over
the hills, we will see it later. Try to
catch the moon close to the horizon when there is still some light in the sky,
the “blue hour”, and find a spot where you can place something interesting in
|Partridge Brook Chesterfield NH|
early spring is the best time to explore the many spectacular local waterfalls. The Run-off and spring rains swells our
streams and that is why I schedule my annual Waterfall Weekend Workshop for
this time off year. The weekend is
always an exciting adventure.
the workshop is set for May 15th – 17th, but, unless we
all travel in separate cars, it seems
unlikely that we will be able gather for the event. This stupid virus has already squashed two of
my classes, but I can always hope. Meanwhile there is nothing preventing us from
photographing waterfalls on our own.
Just stay distant from the crowds.
Remember to bring a tripod and polarizer to cut through the reflections
and soften the rushing water. And try not to slip on the wet leaves into the freezing water - not all of the dangers out there are related to a nasty virus.
|Chesterfield Gorge Bridge|
|Gnarled Stump Spofford NH|
I hope you are doing well, healthy and safe, and that this discussion will get you going on your own exploration beyond the confines of your home and into the growing beauty of our New England spring. Let me know what interesting subjects you find.
Maybe I will see you out there – just stay safely distant!
|Spofford Village NH|